Free Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Many who are blind or visually impaired—or who have reading or other physical disabilities—often cannot use printed materials, depriving them of reading materials that most take for granted.

Braille Institute’s Library Services—the Southern California branch of the National Library Service (NLS), a network coordinated by the Library of Congress—has solved this problem for more than six decades by providing a free library for the blind and visually impaired. Books, periodicals and other texts are available in braille and recorded formats. With a Reader Advisor’s help, choosing books is easy; patrons select from more than 100,000 titles and 1.2 million volumes accessible from the Library’s collection.

As a result, tens of thousands each year use the Braille Institute Library to fill all of their reading needs, ranging from serious books for school or work to recreation and leisure. We offer a wide-range of free programs for our patrons, including braille books and magazines and periodicals in braille, along with braille and audio formats. Patrons can also enjoy a Telephone Reader Program both online and on the phone, a book-of-the-month club, and more. With the Braille Institute Library, visually impaired and blind people can enjoy books and audio formats.

In 2009 Braille Institute Library Services was named one of 10 recipients of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, recognizes institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities.

Our Library for the Visually Impaired Services include Braille Books, Audio Books, Computers, and more

The Braille Institute library for the blind and visually impaired has numerous services that can benefit everyone. We encourage you to visit us today and see how you can take advantage of the following services:

Browsing Area – Check out up to 2 digital books, 5 recorded cassettes and 2 braille books from a large selection of genres and authors.

Patron Computer – Reserve our patron computer for online job resources and more.

Wi-Fi Connection – Bring in your personal laptop and access the internet for free in one of our quiet reading areas.

Expert Reader Advisors – Meet one of our friendly and knowledgeable Reader Advisors at the Library front counter to select a book just for you!

CCTV – There are three CCTV magnification stations available for patrons to read print.

BARD Station – Not signed up for our Braille and Audio Reading Download yet? You can complete our online application in just a few easy steps at the BARD station.

Scheduled BARD Sessions – BARD sessions are available every month, to help you learn the process of downloading digital books. Sign up today!

SHELF Project – Beside having access to books from NLS, you can now download locally produced books.

For more information call us at 1(800) 808-2555 or (323) 660-3880, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (PST).

How to Use Braille Institute’s Library

The best way to use the library is to prepare a list of books you would like to order and then call us at 1(800) 808-2555 or (323) 660-3880.  You can also e-mail book orders to readers@brailleinstitute.org.  You can tell your Reader Advisor the name of the person for whom you are ordering and then tell us what you would like to order.  

You may also peruse our online catalog page and order books directly!

You are welcome to call as often as you like and order as many as 10 books per phone call. The Braille Library does not place any restriction on the number of braille books or books for the visually impaired that you can have checked out at any given time but we do ask that you return each book within its one-month loan period.

If you receive Talking Book Topics, Braille Book Review or the yearly catalog, you can use them to create a list of book numbers (for books on tape) or BR numbers (for books in braille). If you do not know the numbers for the books you would like, then you can make a list of specific titles and authors. Your reader advisor can find any book in our collection by title, author, or BR number. Once your selection is found, we will arrange to have it mailed to you, if it is available, or put your name on the wait list if it is not available. Once it is mailed to you, your selection will take about two weeks to arrive.

To pick up books at the Library call us the day before you come, and we will have your available selections ready for pick up at the Library counter. Here is a list of our Regional Branch locations.

Braille Institute Library Loan Period

You may keep books on loan for one month. No fines are levied for late books, but you are urged to observe this loan period so that materials can be supplied to other users. Books obtained through interlibrary loans may be kept for 60 days and must be returned promptly.

Returning our Books for the Visually Impaired

To return audio or braille books in the mail at no cost, simply reverse the mailing label on the mailing container and put it in a postal box. Do not include correspondence inside the containers.

Talking-Book Machine Care and Maintenance

  • Don’t expose your machine or books to extreme heat or cold.
  • Be sure to listen to the recorded instructions supplied with your unit.
  • Keep food and liquids away from your machine and books.

If your machine needs repair, please do not attempt to do it yourself or have it repaired. Simply contact the Machine-Lending Agency and we will send you a replacement.

Call us at: 1(800) 808-2555
Or e-mail us at: mla@brailleinstitute.org

Our Reader Advisors

If you ever have trouble selecting books, our Reader Advisors will be more than willing to help you. They can suggest titles based on your interests or help you find titles by your favorite authors. Call us at: 1(800) 808-2555, or email readers@brailleinstitute.org

Ready To Order?

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section to find answers to common questions about ordering materials.

For more information call us at 1(800) 808-2555 or (323) 660-3880, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (PST).

Regional Branches:

Braille Institute Library Services, Los Angeles
741 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Phone: (323) 660-3880 or (323) 663-1111, Ext. 1500
Toll-free: 1 (800) 808-2555
E-mail: bils@brailleinstitute.org

Anaheim Center Regional Branch
527 North Dale Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92801
Phone: (714) 821-5000, Ext. 2126

Coachella Valley Neighborhood Center (relocated from Rancho Mirage)
74-245 Highway 111, Suite E101
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone: (760) 321-1111

Laguna Hills Neighborhood Center
24411 Ridge Route Drive, Suite 130
Riverside, CA 92506
Phone: (949) 330-5062

Riverside Neighborhood Center
6974 Brockton Avenue, Suite 100
Riverside, CA 92506
Phone: (951) 787-8800

San Diego County Center Regional Branch
9635 Granite Ridge Drive, Suite 130
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: (858) 452-1111, Ext. 5011

Santa Barbara Center Regional Branch
2031 De La Vina Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (805) 682-6222, Ext. 8318

Braille Institute’s Library Services Hours

Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m (PST)

For more information call us at 1(800) 808-2555 or (323) 660-3880, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (PST) or e-mail at bils@brailleinstitute.org.